The Role ofFathers Among Refugee and Disadvantaged Families in Low And Middle-Income ‎Countries

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The role of fathers among refugee and disadvantaged families in low and middle-income ‎countries (LMICs) remains poorly understood. This study has sought to examine the ‎associations between mothers’ perceptions of their husband’s involvement (hereafter referred ‎to as paternal involvement), and her perceptions of her own parenting, distress, and well-being, ‎as well as observed mother-child interactions in families living in disadvantaged communities ‎and humanitarian settings. We analyzed baseline data from 104 mother-child dyads who ‎participated in a randomized controlled trial aimed at evaluating the impact of the Mother-‎Child Education Program in Beirut, Lebanon. Mothers self-reported their distress, well-being, ‎parenting (i.e., harsh discipline and parenting stress), and paternal involvement at home and in ‎the community. Mother-child pairs were videotaped while completing a puzzle together and ‎dyadic interactions were coded. Correlation analysis showed that higher perceptions of paternal ‎involvement were associated with more positive affect displayed by the child, more positive ‎regard for the child, and better mother-child synchrony during the dyadic interactions. Path ‎analysis showed that paternal involvement was significantly associated with maternal well-‎being and distress. In turn, higher levels of maternal distress, were associated with higher levels ‎of harsh discipline and more perceived parenting stress. The findings illustrate that paternal ‎involvement may impact markers of maternal mental health and positive mother-child ‎interactions among families living in disadvantaged communities or humanitarian settings. ‎Paternal involvement should be considered when designing and implementing parenting ‎programs in LMICs.‎